oil pipes 298.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
A massive underground oil pipeline burst south of Haifa Monday evening, sending tons of crude oil into the ground, with some oozing out into buildings and onto nearby roads.
Highway 4 was closed and environmental experts were still assessing the damage.
Emergency services estimated that around 40 tons of oil spilled from the pipeline, which carries oil from the Port of Ashkelon to refineries in Haifa.
The first warning came in the evening, when, according to Haifa fire services spokesman Hezi Levy, the owner of the Yekev Hagalil factory, south of Haifa, called in a complaint that oil was leaking into his building.
After finding that the 40-centimeter pipeline had sprung a leak, and that oil was pooling in drainage ditches alongside the busy highway, Katza, the national oil company, stopped the flow to the pipe.
Meanwhile, fire and rescue teams, and Haifa and Tirat Hacarmel municipal workers labored for hours to limit the scope of the disaster. They pumped oil out of the ditches and spread sand across oil slicks to absorb the liquid and minimize the risk of fire. Levy said that even after the pipe was shut down, small quantities of oil continued to leak out.
Police closed Highway 4 in both directions between the Matam junction and the northern entrance to Tirat Carmel.
Tirat Hacarmel Police head Ch.-Supt. Tuvia Yisrael said that following the clean-up efforts, there was no immediate danger to the public.
Had the oil been permitted to continue flowing into the drainage ditches, it would have eventually entered the nearby Mediterranean Sea, Yisrael said.
Police and Environment Ministry officials would investigate the incident in the coming days, Yisrael said.